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RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

Pepparkakor: the irresistible Swedish ginger snaps

If you’ve ever stepped into a supermarket in Sweden (the food section in your local Ikea will provide the next best alternative) you may know about pepparkakor. They’re a much loved Christmas cookie, but I like to enjoy them all year.

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the description will – very thin and very crisp dark spiced ginger biscuits, also known as ginger thins or ginger snaps. I picked up a couple of boxes when visiting Stockholm over Easter, one for home and one for a gift. Turns out I ate most of both boxes as it’s almost impossible to ignore their unique texture and mildly fiery flavour.

They’re not like any other cookie I’ve encountered – incredibly light and completely void of moisture lending to their unmistakable crispness. And those who did get a chance to dip in a paw before I managed to scoff the contents of both boxes thoroughly enjoyed them for the same reasons.

Short of having to drive to Ikea every time I want to re-stock, I soon realised the only solution would be to find a recipe and make them (regularly) myself.

The elusive pepparkakor ‘snap’

After quite a bit of research, it turns out achieving the signature snap in this Christmas cookie favourite is a challenge. There are online stories of bakers making dozens of batches with varying degrees of ingredients, still unable to claim victory over the elusive and unique texture.

Suggestions involve excluding any fat whatsoever in order to remove all moisture. Others say bake the ginger biscuits for longer at a lower temperature. Further advice speaks of using very strong and unfamiliar raising agents for the tough dough.

Well, I found a recipe and a process that read right to me. I tried it, and I nailed it first time. If you want to achieve the same texture and flavour as those boxed Swedish ginger thins, use this recipe.

Check Out: Recipe For Gluten-Free Hazelnut And Coffee Cookies, With No Butter!

RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine (November 2011) and is an absolute corker. It is also incredibly quick and easy to make the dough – the majority of your time will be spent rolling and cutting out the individual ginger biscuits.

The recipe suggests this makes about 80 biscuits but I end up with double – I suspect I roll the dough half as thin as the recipe has. So if you do in fact want 80, I would half the below ingredients. Or you’ll end up with 160 biscuits filling up two large Tupperware boxes. Not a bad situation to be in, in my opinion. Keep them airtight and they’ll last you for as long as two people with an average biscuit intake would need to eat them.

A Recipe For Pepparkakor, Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

Makes 80 (or around 160 very thin ones as in the pictures)

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown soft sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses or black treacle
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk

How to make pepparkakor dough, the perfect Christmas cookie

RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in bowl. In the meantime, heat the butter in a pan over a medium heat until melted.

Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the foaming subsides and the butter is just beginning to brown. Turn off the heat.

Whisk in all the spices and then add the brown sugar and molasses to the butter mixture. Whisk to combine until the sugar has melted and you have a smooth mixture. Add the egg and yolk and mix again with the whisk to combine. You should have a dark, sticky, smooth and glossy mixture.

Pour this mixture into your bowl of flour and combine with a spatula until you have a dough – don’t over work it. Cover the bowl with cling film and keep in the fridge for the butter to firm, at least an hour.

Rolling out pepparkakor ginger snaps – why not make gingerbread men!

RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps CookiesAdjust your oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 130C (fan). Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper or silicone paper.

Break off a portion of the dough and with your hands mound into a round and squash down. Take a rolling pin and slowly roll it out – if the edges are dry and crack, smooth them out with your fingers and continue rolling slowly.

If any of the dough sticks to your rolling pin, just reverse the roll to remove it and join it back to the main mass.

Roll them about as thin as 1mm – don’t worry, they do rise a little in the oven. Use a small cookie cutter to cut out your shapes. You can choose whatever you want – simple circles, stars, or even gingerbread men.

Carefully lift each biscuit and place on your baking trays – leave a slight gap between each as they do expand slightly. You will fit about twenty per baking tray. Gather up the remaining dough and join with the rest of the mass. Break off another portion and repeat the process until all your dough is used up.

RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

Baking pepparkakor Swedish ginger biscuits

Place one tray on the upper rack and while it’s baking, roll out and fill up your next tray. After 15 minutes or so, transfer the partially baked top tray to the lower rack and rotate 180 degrees.

Place your second tray of biscuits on the upper rack. When your first tray is done, remove from the oven and transfer each biscuit to a cooling rack. Bring the top tray down to the bottom shelf, and continue this rotation until you’ve cooked all your biscuits. The ginger snaps are done when they are hard to touch and just darkening around the edges – around 15-20 minutes.

Tip
 The dough can be refrigerated for up to two days or frozen for up to one month if you want to get ahead. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping. Let frozen dough thaw overnight before proceeding with the recipe.

Settle down on a comfy arm chair in the evening with half a dozen pepparkakor, a glass of cold milk and a good read. I’m sold.

Have you ever made pepparkakor and if so, how did it go? What’s your favourite type of Christmas cookie? Would you use gingerbread men cutters for this, or another shape? If you’ve tried making these ginger things, let me know in the comments below!

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Leyla Kazim
Leyla Kazim

Spending most of my time either eating or travelling. Constantly in awe of nature and on a mission to seek the joy in every moment. Please feel free to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you all!

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84 Comments

  1. Marie
    October 4, 2020 / 13:40

    What happens if I skip the pinch of cayenne? I forgot to buy that..🤦🏻‍♀️

    • Leyla Kazim
      Author
      October 5, 2020 / 11:02

      Don’t worry about it Marie, you can go ahead with the recipe without the cayenne 🙂

  2. Judy
    September 16, 2020 / 09:50

    This recipe is just perfect Leyla! About to make my third batch. Friends and work colleagues are totally impressed.. am going to make them for Xmas gifts. I’m amazed at the texture of the mixture – how it holds together even when rolled thin. Only tricky part has been getting the brown sugar to melt in to to the butter with a resulting smooth texture.. second time I made these I think the butter cooled a little and I had to reheat the mix slowly whilst not crystallising the sugar. I cut the rolled out mixture in to long fingers approx 15 x 3cm and round the corners off, so much fun to nibble on.. store them in a tall jar 🙂

    • Leyla Kazim
      Author
      September 21, 2020 / 11:02

      This sounds so amazing Judy and so great you managed to overcome the problem of getting the brown sugar to melt into the butter! I’m so glad you enjoyed them 🙂

  3. Trish
    August 13, 2020 / 00:40

    Just love Ikea ginger biscuits with blue cheese, try it, it’s a thing!
    We live a 4 hour round trip to our nearest Ikea so I’m so happy to have found this recipe.
    A question, if I don’t use all of the dough, can I store it in fridge or freezer, and if so, how please?

    • Leyla Kazim
      Author
      August 19, 2020 / 10:19

      I am totally with you on the ginger biscuits with blue cheese Trish! Yes I reckon you can store the dough, just bring it together in one mass and cover it with plenty of cling film so it’s in no way exposed to the dry air in a freezer. Then allow it to full defrost before you continue with the process of rolling it out and cutting out the shapes 🙂

  4. Linda Mitchell
    December 17, 2019 / 04:42

    I had a Swedish Grandmother who made “suit boxes” of these cookies. Someone told me that you had to be
    Swedish in order to be able to roll them out so thin. My mom used to tell a story about how she ”
    cried over the dough” because she couldn’t get them to roll out. I believe it!!! I really believe my grandmother
    was in the kitchen with me the first few times I made these. By all means, use cardamom.
    It takes the cookie to a whole new level.
    A brand in the store that is SUPER good is “Anna’s Thins”. A small box is about $3.00
    Happy Baking!

  5. Heather
    December 11, 2019 / 16:00

    Made these for Christmas 2018. Devine. But forgot to save the recipe. Yikes. Found it just now. And saved. And printed a copy just in case. Christmas 2019 baking can continue.

  6. Larry
    February 16, 2019 / 15:10

    I’ve made two batches of these so far, going to make my third today (that’s the plan, at least). My wife and I love these cookies! We bought a big box of pepparkakor at IKEA and loved them so much we decided I should learn how to make them. Found your recipe and the cookies I made were even better than IKEA’s! We eat them sparingly, one or two at a time, usually no more than three in a day but I start planning a new batch as soon as we get near the end of the previous one.

    The only thing I do different is use dark muscovado sugar instead of the brown sugar. It’s a richer taste, in my opinion, but I know it’s not readily available everywhere. I also plan to use sorghum syrup in place of the molasses in a future batch. I’ll let you know how that goes.

    • leylakazim
      Author
      February 20, 2019 / 09:37

      This is so awesome to hear Larry, thank you for letting me know! I actually thought they were better than the IKEA version too 😁 Great shout on the dark muscavado too, I will try that next time!

  7. Chris
    February 11, 2019 / 21:09

    Made these today and they’re tip top! A few we’re neglected whilst I was busy cutting the next batch and caught a little, but they’re still just as tasty! I found mine got thinner and thinner as I got braver pressing them out.

    • leylakazim
      Author
      February 14, 2019 / 14:44

      This is so awesome Chris! I too found I got mine thinner the more I did them. Enjoy all your biscuits 😀

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